This is a prequel to the previous post, in which I logged in real time the trouble I have been having in getting comments onto Telegraph blogs.
In fact, this has been going on for a long time, far too long, but I don't intend to bore you with a long litany of complaints. Instead, I will describe here events in the 48 hours that preceded the most recent problem re Ben Fenton's blog, and which finally made me realize that the time had come to make a stand against the Telegraph's continuing perverseness over the matter of readers' comments.
There have been some ill-considered editorials in the Telegraph in recent months ( OK, so that's a personal view, but that's what a blog is for). None was more misjudged than the line taken in the Jan 3 editorial entitled " Time for Prescott to go". Prescott you may recall gave a TV interview in which he condemned what happened at the Saddam execution. The Telegraph described this as wading into a "delicate diplomatic issue", and called (not for the first time) for his immediate sacking.
Some of us might feel that Prescott should have been stripped of his Deputy Premiership as well as departmental responsibilities a long time ago, well before his much-publicized shenanigans with the lady civil servant came to light.
The man is not just predatory, but downright incompetent. But on this particular issue, namely the disgraceful scenes at Saddam's execution, captured on mobile phones, Jabba the Hutt seemed finally to have got something right.
So the Telegraph's spotlight on his angry responses, given in a live interview with aggressive inquisitors, and using them to attack his state of mind, indeed his sobriety, seemed like a bit of seedy political opportunism.
Given that Blair & Bush invaded Iraq ostensibly to get rid of Saddam, or merely his illusory WMD, how come the fate of that dictator has suddenly become a delicate diplomatic issue ?
There are no prizes for guessing what would have happened to the present Shia-dominated government in Iraq if Saddam had ever been able to wangle a release, and rebuilt his Sunni/Baathist power-base. The Telegraph totally misrepresented the issue as one involving walking on eggshells. Living with a human time-bomb would seem a better analogy !
So here's the response I sent under Comments at about 17:00, London time, on 3rd Jan :
I didn't see the Prescott interview, but I did see your headline yesterday in which you referred to him "wading in". That was after your own editorial condemnation, so it left me wondering if there was a new irregular verb in the English language, namely "to condemn" (I condemn, you create, he wades in).
I hold no brief for Prescott: he is unfit for public office. But on this occasion, his instincts were right. This is more than a delicate diplomatic matter, as you describe it. It's an issue that goes to the heart of our concept of justice and human dignity. The obscene taunting, the use of mobile phones to capture a man's responses in the last degrading seconds of his life, have cheapened Iraq's judicial process. Reluctantly, I formed the view some time ago that the Iraqis for the most part deserved to have Saddam Hussein as their leader, and the events at those gallows simply confirms that view.
PS For the record, I believed it was right that in this exceptional case Saddam should have been executed (to remove the fear that he might one day return and exact terrible revenge). But I also considered that his request for a "soldier's death" by firing squad should have been respected.
A string of new comments appeared, abruptly terminated mid-afternoon (before mine was even sent) with one by "Jerry" at 15.01. Many shared my view, namely that the Telegraph had got it seriously wrong . Maybe the Editors then decided they had taken enough flak for one day.
But that same leader is still accessible, inviting comments, which will now fail to appear. In other words, the Telegraph editors have decided enough has been said, but are too squeamish, apparently, to put up a notice to the effect that correspondence is now closed.
Thanks heavens for the personal blog, then , where one's ignored or rejected comments can be placed into the public domain. My present readership is probably too small to have an immediate effect, but casual googling has shown that things that one wrote about weeks or months ago can resurface through someone researching a particular issue or grievance.
I had intended to end this by relating the experience of posting to Shane Richmond's blog, also on the 3rd Jan, which might be of interest to those of us who followed Colin Randall from the Telegraph into the blogging wilderness. But this post is already long enough as it is. Expect a third and (for now) final report on the Telly's erratic moderators by tomorrow at the latest.
PS Still no reply from Ben Fenton or Shane Richmond to my emails, alerting them (as a courtesy) to these unflattering comments re the Telegraph's so-called moderation.
PPS Monday 8th Jan: Is this the most redundant headline of all time ( from today's BBC homepage):
Trial to resume without Saddam
The genocide trial of six former Iraqi officials is due to resume in Baghdad without their co-defendant Saddam Hussein, who was hanged on 30 December.